Category Archives: modernism

Vicious trio of architectural desecrators

Dalrymple writes that the apostles of architectural modernism Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier were

so flawed that between them they were an encyclopædia of vice.

They

  • spoke of morality and behaved like whores
  • talked of the masses and were utter egotists
  • claimed to be principled and were without scruple, either moral, intellectual, æsthetic or financial

Their two undoubted talents were those of self-promotion and survival,

combined with an overweening thirst for power. Their intellectual dishonesty was startling and would have been laughable had it not been more destructive than the Luftwaffe.

Coventry sojourn

A jewel of Coventry commercial architecture

A jewel of Coventry commercial architecture

Dalrymple visits the West Midlands city, where

amid the hideous and dilapidating buildings of a failed modernism

he sees

  • precincts with half the shops boarded up
  • youths in hoodies skateboarding all day along the walkways
  • the prematurely aged, fat and crippled unemployed occupying themselves in the search for cheap imported junk in such shops as remain open
  • lurkers, muggers and dealers waiting for nightfall
One of the city's elegant hotels

One of the city’s charming hostelries

He stays in an establishment

whose nearest architectural equivalent is the hotel in which I stayed in Makhachkala in ex-Soviet Dagestan.

Council House, Coventry: the delicate, judicious, infinitely sensitive blending of the old with the very finest of the new architecture

Council House: the very finest of the new architecture is judiciously and most delicately grafted upon the old edifice to make a charming, congruous and unified whole. The conjoining of the two structures in this way is considered a masterstroke of restraint and elegance, much loved by the inhabitants. Truly the city is blessed to have working for it architects the likes of these

A powerful reminder of why modernism was an imperative

William C.T. Dobson, Christ as a Child, 1857. 'Garish and sickly,' says Dalrymple. 'The likes of Dobson not only painted bad pictures but did lasting damage to our artistic tradition, making the avoidance of their kitschy sentiment almost the first duty of any artist.'

William C.T. Dobson, Christ as a Child, 1857. ‘Garish and sickly,’ says Dalrymple. ‘The likes of Dobson not only painted bad pictures but did lasting damage to our artistic tradition, making the avoidance of their kitschy sentiment almost the first duty of any artist.’